Part of the appeal of moving to York is lowering our mortgage payments to increase our financial freedom. So if there’s a way we build up our down payment, we’re all over it like white on rice.
When we shared with friends and neighbors we were going to list our house without a realtor, we were met with raised eyebrows. We were surprised with how much hesitancy people have (and the internet in general) towards listing your home FSBO.
Well folks, we sold our home in just one weekend. We had two offers and accepted one $10,000 over asking price with no sellers assist. The offer was a clean offer with few contingencies and we couldn’t have asked for anything better. The market in our area is 100% a seller’s market so we knew we had that advantage working for us, but we also worked extremely hard to ensure a successful sale.
Here’s how we sold our house without a realtor in just one weekend:
Make a list: Nate and I made a list of every single repair and project that needed to be accomplished before we listed. Some were small like paint touch ups but we also had huge projects like replacing the roof and finishing the deck. Nate and I worked for two months straight getting our house in perfect condition. The list ended up being over 60 tasks long but it paid off. We repainted all the baseboards, switched over the light bulbs to LED lights, repainted the front door and exterior trim, gave the mailbox a sprucing up with spray paint, replaced the foyer light and lamp post and lots of other odds and ends that made the house turn key.
Professional cleaning: We paid $150 to have our house professionally cleaned the Wednesday before we put our house on the market. There is no way I could have ever gotten our house so shiny while trying to wrangle Everly. It was definitely worth the money even though I felt slightly lazy as I watched two women scrub my home all morning.
Staging: I’m not a staging expert but we researched some tips for presenting your home to potential buyers. I removed a lot of the frames from the walls and bookshelves to declutter. Anything that stayed, I replaced with coordinating scrapbook paper. I used paper from a black, white and gold themed set throughout the entire house so the decor would feel coordinated. We also hid toys, sold extra furniture on Facebook and organized closets and cabinets. I placed vases of fresh flowers throughout the house and had two bowls of lemons in the kitchen. In the bathrooms, I hung new white hand towels, put away the bath mats, removed everything from the showers and completely cleared the counters. No one wants to see your old toothbrush. I don’t keep a lot of pillows on our bed because it’s a pain but staged the bed with throw pillows I borrowed from my mom. Our basement has an extra office/bedroom so we staged it with a full-sized air mattress sitting on top of boxes. We threw on a quilt and pillows, hung a mirror above the bed and bought a lamp for the end table. Overall, I spent $35 to stage the room and transformed it into a valuable bonus space.
Professional pictures: We spent $110 on professional pictures. I used a website called Thumbtack to find our photographer. I entered my project and price range and within 10 minutes I had personalized email quotes from 5 local photographers. After reviewing the website and reviews of the cheapest quote, I called him up and booked him. He came the Thursday right after our house was cleaned and took pictures of the interior and exterior of our home. As he went from room to room, I moved unattractive items out of his shots like the dog dish or baby gate. Within hours we had 50+ bright, beautiful pictures of our home in our email.
Seeking advice: We have a family friend who is a realtor and we asked her to run comps on our home. She advised us on an appropriate list price and we are so thankful for her counsel. Had it not been for her wisdom, we would have listed for $10,000 less than we actually did. This is one of the biggest drawbacks of FSBO as there are plenty of statistics out there showing houses sell for less without a realtor.
Advertising: Nate bought customized yard signs off of Vista Print to advertise our home as FSBO. It included our phone number and just felt more substantial than the standard FSBO sign you can buy at a hardware store. We also bought an additional sign that we posted in the entrance to our neighborhood which listed our address and an arrow pointing in the direction of our home. I created a flyer which included our address, listing price, four photos, home description, and contact information. Nate printed the flyers on high-quality photo paper and we kept some in a box that was attached to our yard sign and some on our counter during showings. We felt the professional feeling the customized sign and high-quality flyer exuded made us look like we knew what we were doing. We didn’t want people to feel like we were winging this and could take advantage of the fact that we didn’t have a realtor.
MLS listing: Nate paid $300 to have a company list our home on MLS. In addition, the company posted our listing to Trulia, Zillow, Realtor.com and other real estate websites. We used Simple Choice Realty and worked with Chris if anyone is interested. He was super responsive and provided helpful advice.
Sellers Commission: We offered a 2.5% commission to the seller’s agent. We were planning on giving 2%, but Chris believed realtors wouldn’t show clients our home for anything less than 2.5%. Our commission was listed on the MLS so realtors knew exactly what we were offering.
Listing date: Apparently, Friday is the best day to list your home. We started getting calls that evening and had showings all weekend long. We had 12 showings between Saturday and Sunday and I continued to receive calls all day Monday requesting showings as our MLS listing had yet to update to “under contract.”
Reaching out: Nate emailed the top 20 realtors in our area with a link to our listing. Although I don’t think we had any bites from this, I thought it was a proactive strategy and a smart way to find more leads. That could be a great idea to try if you’re having trouble scheduling showings.
Showings: For showings, I met the realtor and clients at the door and introduced myself. I then remained outside during the showing and let them know I’d be happy to answer any questions they had about the home. Towards the beginning, I was very passive, but once we got our first offer I made sure to tell the realtor before they left that we would be making a decision at the end of the weekend. I encouraged them to let us know if they’d like to put an offer in so we know to wait before we decided.
Follow-Up: We had a solid offer within hours on Saturday morning. On Sunday, Nate followed up with realtors who showed our home via text, call or email. He told them we had an offer on the table and wanted to see where their clients were before we moved forward. This was helpful because we quickly knew who was passing and why. Sunday afternoon we got a return call from a realtor telling us not to accept any offers as her clients were putting in an offer by 8 pm that night and it would be $10,000 over asking price. By letting the other realtors know our house was in demand, we secured a stronger offer.
Selling a home is stressful no matter what. For us, the hardest part was getting our home ready for sale. We ran ourselves into the ground making improvements and in hindsight, we should have spread out our timeline. Showings are also stressful no matter what because of the pressure to keep your home looking perfect. Those parts don’t change with or without a realtor.
We knew that we have a seller’s market right now which helped us make our decision. There were virtually no homes on the market like ours in our price range. Had it been a buyers market or our neighborhood and school district not been in such high demand, we may not have made the same decision.
For us, it paid off and we now have around $10,000 more for our down payment for our new house.